5 Toxic Relationships To Give Up For Lent, Even If You're Not Religious

by Sarah Cole

Lent is upon us again.

For those of us who are not religious (such as myself), you may not understand what Lent is.

According to Webster, it's simply defined as "the 40 weekdays from Ash Wednesday to Easter observed by the Roman Catholic, Eastern, and some Protestant churches as a period of penitence and fasting."

As I stated, I'm not Catholic or even religious. I have, though, participated in Lent a few times in the past.

I did so more for my own test of self-control and health than for a religious testament.

But today, I got to thinking, "What could I stand to 'give up'?"

Honestly, my first impulse was my ex-boyfriend. We'll call him Ted.

Ted and I have this crazy chemistry that you can only feel in the deepest parts of your soul. It's the kind that unbridles any inhibitions and clouds your mind from making smart decisions.

Ted and I have been doing this song and dance for about a year after going through a brutal breakup.

We both know we aren't each other's person, but for some reason, we keep ending up in each other's arms (aka, beds).

Despite the unconditional love we will always have, this story has ended, and we both need to start a new chapter in our lives.

So naturally, in thinking of things to give up, I want to give up Ted and the unrealistic vision of a happily ever after with him.

But what if Ted isn't the only toxic relationship I need to give up for Lent?

I mean, I truly doubt he is the worst of my problems.

The beginning of Lent made think about how I needed to reorganize relationships in my life.

Since life is short and love is fleeting, these are the relationships I've decided to cut out of my life for Lent:

1. The on-again, off-again relationship

Whether it's a lover or a friend, this back and forth in a relationship is detrimental to many things, including your self-worth, self-esteem, sanity and time.

A constant limbo of "Does he love me?" or "Are we friends?" is emotionally exhausting and can be insanely taxing on your personal well-being.

If you love a person and they love you, you respect each other. When the relationship has run its course, the mature thing to do is bid your farewell and wish the best for that person.

Everyone you meet in life leaves some sort of lasting trace in your life, but that does not mean that person will last forever.

Meeting these beautiful people and learning how to let them go is all part of this journey called life.

2. The overbearing family member

We all know this person, whether it be a parent or someone else in your family who chooses to tell you everything you're doing wrong.

Now, this person is forever integrated in your life (most often because of DNA), but that does not mean you can let them dictate your happiness.

You need to outline your boundaries, and when they cross them, don't feel bad about calling them out.

3. That jealous friend

This is that friend who you were once really close with, but now they're definitely not someone you would call at 3 am in a time of need.

This is that friend who backhandedly compliments your shoes or laughs and makes fun of you when you order a double cheeseburger and fries.

This person is not your friend. Everyone knows real friends don't let friends eat double cheeseburgers alone.

4. The "I'm so busy right now" person

We all live crazy lives, and we all are busy.

But if you are putting energy into a relationship — whether romantic or platonic — in which you are doing all the planning, it's not worth it.

This person is just not that into you. Take the relationship for what it's worth, and move your energy elsewhere.

Honestly, I've gone without sleep, without food and without any excuses when someone who matters to me needs my help and time.

People should do the same for you.

5. The alter ego of self-doubt that lives in your head

OK, this may be stretching it, but we all are our own worse critics.

There's this tiny voice of doubt in all of us that's lurking and waiting for that one moment when we feel small or inferior to jump in and weigh in on our self-esteem.

That voice may never die, but if you stop feeding it, it will eventually become so weak that it would be able to be heard.

Congratulate yourself on where you are, and that negative voice will instantly become silent.

I've discovered I don't have to be religious to choose to make choices to give up toxic things in my life.

Simply being grateful for my existence and wanting to enrich my life and those around me will be my religion, and throughout the course, I will continue to let the good vibes outweigh the bad ones.